Saturday, May 31, 2014

Fresh fish weekly!

I love getting my weekly fish delivery from Kim Bartlett! Here on Boston's North Shore, he delivers right to my door, so all I have to do is decide what kind of fish I want that week and the manner in which I will cook it. This past week I made my flounder in the meunière method, lightly floured, sautéed, and make a quick lemony brown butter sauce with fresh herbs. Simple and clean and delicious.  Or how about the  flounder with satsuma hollandaise sauce show belowRead more about Kim's Fabled Fish Route here.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Follow your bliss

 Follow your bliss  8 x 8 

This is a fun color study of Hog Island near Crane's Beach in Ipswich, MA, with a floating island of trees juxtaposed against the sky and the salt marsh.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Parrot tulip, deconstructed

What a show tulips put on each spring! Remember these wild and crazy parrot tulips next fall when it's time to plant bulbs in your back yard. These lasted quite a while in the back yard, but I also just had to snip a few blossoms for inside the house. They opened up and exploded with their vibrant colors, reminding me of a wild fauvist painting that Matisse might have painted.

Once the petals fell off the stem their riotous beauty 
remained, so I spread them out on 
at table and played with them a bit.

Even the naked stems looked poetic and lovely too me.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Bird's nest color studies

Birds nest color study: I   5 x 7"

 Above and below are colors studies for bird's nest. 
See final painting here.

Birds nest color study:  II   5 x 7"

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Madame Butterfly shows off again!

Although the blooms on our 'Magnolia Butterflies' (Magnolia acuminata Butterflies) came and went in a little more than a week, she put on quite a show!  Read more about this pretty yellow magnolia in previous years here and here.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Gloucester marsh

Gloucester marsh 4 x 6 

Sometimes it's fun to see a painting in progress. 
The photos aren't that great here, but you get the 
idea of the development of this small painting.
Scroll down...

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Fresh fruit tart

This is my very favorite fruit tart recipe (originally from Cook's Illustrated magazine.), and also a favorite with my family… I've made it at least a dozen times! It's nice to make for parties because you can make both the buttery tart shell and the vanilla custard (pastry cream) way ahead of time, and then just assemble with the fruit of your choice just before your guests arrive or before you head out to your party. Glazing the fruit of your assembled tart with rum infused jelly makes your tart look trés French-pastry-shop awesome. The recipe is difficult to find on-line so here it is.

Classic Fresh Fruit Tart with Pastry Cream

Pastry Cream:
2 C. half and half
1/2 C. sugar
pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks, chalazae removed
3 T. cornstarch
4 T. unsalted butter (cold) cut into 4 pieces
1 1/2 t. vanilla

Tart Pastry
1 large egg yolk
1 T. heavy cream
1/2 t. vanilla
1 1/4 C. flour
2/3 C. confectioner’s sugar
1/4 t. salt
8 T. unsalted butter, very cold, cut into 1/2" cubes

Finishing glaze
3 tablespoons apricot preserves
1 tablespoon dark rum

For the pastry cream, heat half-and-half, 6 T. sugar and salt in saucepan over medium heat until simmering, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar.

Whisk egg yolks in medium bowl until thoroughly combined. Whisk in remaining 2 T. sugar and whisk until sugar has began to dissolve and mixture is creamy, about 15 seconds. Whisk in cornstarch until combined and mixture is pale yellow and thick, about 30 seconds.

When half-and-half mixture reaches full simmer, gradually whisk into yolk mixture to temper. Return mixture to saucepan, scraping bowl with spatula; return to simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly, until 3 or 4 bubbles burst on surface and mixture is thickened and glossy, about 30 seconds. Off heat, whisk in butter and vanilla. Transfer mixture to bowl, press plastic wrap directly on surface, and refrigerate until cold and set, at least 3 hours or up to 48 hours.

For tart pastry, whisk together yolk, cream, and vanilla in bowl. Pulse to combine flour, sugar and salt in bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture; pulse to cut butter into flour until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 15, 1-second pulses. With machine running, add egg mixture and process until dough just comes together, about 25 seconds. Turn dough onto sheet of plastic wrap and press into 6-inch disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour up to 48 hours.

Remove dough from refrigerator. Unwrap and roll out between lightly floured large sheets of parchment paper. Transfer dough to tart pan. Set dough-lined tart pan on large plate and freeze 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375. Set tart pan on baking sheet, press 12-in. square of foil inside frozen tart shell and over edges and fill with metal or ceramic pie weights. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes, rotating halfway through baking time. Remove from oven and carefully remove foil and weights by gathering edges of foil and pulling up and out. Continue to bake until deep golden brown, 5-8 minutes longer.

When tart shell is completely cool, spread cold pastry cream over bottom and top with fresh fruit. Place apricot preserves and rum in a saucepan to heat, then brush the warm glaze over the fruit to give it a shine. Serve within an hour or two.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Color Inspiration—ferns

Deep Forest

In this wild resplendent place 
ferns curl softly green 
below bearded mossy trees 
rain falls 
birds call echoing 
deep forest  

—by CA Guilfoyle

To see more colors, click on the red "color inspirationlabel below.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Who put the ape in apricot?

I think the Cowardly Lion is the only one who 
knows that answer to that question, but I do 
know that this apricot tart was delicious! 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Happy pachys!

This weekend I gave the pachysandra and boxwood in our secret, sunken garden a spring haircut! This procedure—which hurts me (and my back) more than it does them—helps keep them neat, snappy and very happy! Pachysandra plants can get long and leggy, so to keep them in check I give them this judicious spring pruning, which in turn makes them flourish with new grown in about a month's time. This sunken garden, with a trickling palazzo fountain and four seasons statues makes us very happy too!

Click here to read more about our sunken garden.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Alliums and irises

Alliums and irises  4 x 4

Here is a little oil sketch of an enchanting spring garden!
 I am placing some of these very small works in 
the upcoming Art in the Barn show.

Thursday, May 15, 2014


Serenity 4 x 6 

Quiet salt marsh with haystack, Route 1 Newbury, Ma.

Saturday, May 10, 2014


Blush  4 x 6

The sky is awash with pinks!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Ode to almond tree blossoms

Artist Vincent Van Gogh painted these airy, almond tree branches blossoms in 1890 as a gift for his newborn nephew. Vincent was extremely close to his younger brother Theo, and after his birth immediately made a painting one of his favorite subjects: blossoming branches against a blue sky. I love the way Vincent saw the world! In this painting, he painted the gnarly branches and delicate white petals against an intensely colored turquoise sky.

“How glad I was when the news came… 
I started right away to make a 
picture for him, to hang in their bedroom, 
big branches of white almond blossoms 
against a blue sky.”

  Modern art houses have made reproductions of this famous painting, with the the sky in shades of red, gold and cobalt blue. I wonder what Van Gogh would think about that?


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Raccoon yoga

Dan saw these paw prints one of my rubber knee pads that I use in the garden. Hmmm...too big for a chipmunk—definitely raccoons. So I was thinking that the mat looks like a mini yoga mat, and then I pictured a group of raccoons out in the courtyard last night doing their "cobra" or "downward dog" poses" on the mat, and getting all limbered up before heading into the neighbor's trash cans!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

French fry fix

This is a fairly guilt-free way to satisfy that occasional French fry craving. Of course, there's still the evil starchy carbs in the potato, but potatoes get a bad rap and really do have loads of nutritional content (high in potassium and B6!), as long as they're not deep fried or loaded with butter, sour cream or other gunk. To make these fries, I scrubbed two small russet potatoes, sliced them into good sized pieces, rubbed with only about a teaspoon of olive oil, spread them on a cookie sheet (flat sides down on the sheet) with salt, pepper, a little garlic powder and crushed rosemary. Then I baked in a 400° oven for about an hour. Works great with sweet potatoes too. Mmm.  

+ + +

Potato nutrition—45 percent of the daily value for vitamin Cmore potassium (620 mg) than even bananas, spinach, or broccoli;10 percent of the daily value of B6;Trace amounts of thiamine, riboflavin, folate, magnesium, phosphorous, iron, and zinc... and all this for around 110 calories— and no fat, sodium, or cholesterol.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Hello May!

It's been a long time coming, but all those April showers will help make the May flowers burst and bloom. I see fat magnolia buds on trees starting to open in the 'hood, along with the daffs and tulips, and all manner of various greenery. The peepers are peeping, the birds are singing, and there's no stopping spring now!  Magnolia photo by Jackie Rueda

To see more colors, click on the red "color inspirationlabel below.